Madness, Otherness and Transformation: Exploring Religion in Nordic Crime Films

  • Author(s): Sofia Sjö
  • When: 2016-01
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • How does religion come across in Priest of Evil and in Scandinavian crime films more generally? Very obviously films such as Priest of Evil suggest that getting too involved in religion is not a good thing. While taking part in certain religious rituals, such as confirmations, is represented in a fairly neutral way, taking religion very seriously never seems to lead to any good. Not surprisingly, with a few exceptions, detectives in Scandinavian crime films do not seem to be that interested in religious questions. One can argue that religion does not really fit with a job focused on finding evidence and proof, but the fact that it is the dark side of religion that the police often come into contact with also make a cautious stand on religion understandable. The recurring use of religious themes and imagery in Scandinavian crime fiction, however, highlights that particularly Christian religious symbols, rituals, spaces and texts are a natural part of life in Scandinavia. In Priest of Evil, the prayer presented at the end of the film, opens up for a possibly religious reading of the film. In other Nordic crime films, religious texts are also used to solve the crimes. In for example Jar City (2006), it is a bible verse on a cross at a grave, that helps the detective unravel the mystery at hand. By linking questions of right and wrong to a religious sphere, the stories also suggest that religion still can be of help when exploring these issues, though getting too involved in questions of faith is not recommended.

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